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After the Baby is born!

Well, you waited your time, stayed on the surface during those months of growing that new life that seems to have totally taken over your world. With even the best intentions, you would be lying if you were not itching to get back under that water and make up for lost time. Of course we don't want to ruin your fun, however to ensure that your return to the aquatic world is indeed fun, it would be wise to take a little time and thought to make a few preparations. OK… some of these suggestions to some of you may seem like a slight case of stating the obvious, but you never know… there maybe that one thing that just slipped your mind. If we are able to make the return to the water more comfortable and safe for even one of you well, that is enough to make this page most worth-while.

Please bear in mind that I am not a physician, so before doing anything, do ensure that you have the all clear from your doctor. They will know you and your circumstances, better than anyone and will be able to advise you accordingly.

Here is an excerpt from the Divers Alert Network web-site with their current advice regarding diving after having given birth:
"After a normal delivery, women can usually resume light to moderate activity within one to three weeks. Obstetricians generally recommend avoiding intercourse and immersion for 21 days postpartum. This allows the cervix to close, decreasing the risk of introducing infection. A good rule of thumb is to wait four weeks after delivery before returning to diving. After a cesarean delivery wound-healing has to be included in the equation. Most obstetricians advise waiting at least four to six weeks after this kind of delivery before resuming full activity. Given the need to regain some measure of lost conditioning, coupled with wound healing, and the significant weight-bearing load of carrying dive gear, it's advisable to wait at least eight weeks after a C-section before returning to diving. Any moderate or severe medical complication of pregnancy - such as twins, pre-term labor, hypertension or diabetes - may further delay return to diving. For women who have had deliveries with medical complications, a medical screening and clearance are advisable before they return to diving.

Additional Information: Caring for a newborn may interfere with a woman's attempts to recover her strength and stamina. Newborn care, characterized by poor sleep and fatigue, is a rigorous and demanding time in life.

BREASTFEEDING Fitness and Diving Issues: From the standpoint of the child, the mother's milk is not unduly affected. The nitrogen absorbed into the body tissues is an inert gas and plays no role in body metabolism. Insignificant amounts of this nitrogen would be present in the mother's milk; there is, however, no risk of the infant accumulating this nitrogen. From the mother's standpoint, there is no reason for a woman who is breastfeeding her child to avoid diving, provided there is no infection or inflammation."

Before even heading for the water, it would be a good idea to ease back into being active once more. Start gently, try a few stomach excercises (of course not before the madatory break allowing your muscles to settle!) and lunges. This will strengthen your stomach, back and legs, so lifting those tanks won't be quite so much of a strain. Again you should always seek medical advice prior to starting an excercise program, especially after having a baby. It might also be a good idea to wait until your hormones have recovered somewhat from the pregnancy, as this could affect your general metabolism as well as your ability to deal with a stressful situation. Back to the fitness front, why not visit the local pool to restore your swimming stamina and general comfort in the water? Always good to prepare you for that unexpected surface swim, as well as getting reaquainted with the water. Even the most experienced diver will have realised that a few of her skills will have frayed at the edges a touch, so while you are there, why not book a pool session with a nearby diving club before plunging into the deep blue. It certainly won't do any harm as chances are, it will have been close to a year since your last dive.

Like your skills, your equipment would probably also be in need of a service, so why leave anything to chance? The more prepared you are prior to diving, the less stressful your return will be.

Finally you are on the boat, you have prepared yourself for this moment and can't wait to jump in. Before you descend, do make the usual buoyancy check, as chances are, your weight and certainly your buoyancy will have changed one way or another. Your body will have undergone huge changes over the past few months, gaining and (hopefully) losing weight, not to mention the hormonal changes that will have occured, so go easy on yourself, even if you had not borne a child, a break of this length of time would definitely require a little extra conservatism. So best not to do that 40m wreck today ;)

Well, I hope that that has covered any elements that could have caused your return to diving to be anything other than a totally wonderful experience.

Wishing you a safe and happy return to life underwater.

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Diving advisor: Clare Wilders PADI MSDT.

© Clare Goodman of GoodieGoodie, 2003.

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